From right to left: H.G. Otis, C.A. Bingham, Clarence E. Ridley, John N. Edy, George W. Thompson, Fred H. Locke, C. Wellington Koiner, O.E. Carr, C.M. Osborn, Charles A. Carran, John G. Stuz

O.E. Carr, city manager of Dubuque, Iowa, addressed 100 of his colleagues gathered in Montreal in 1924 at the ICMA Annual Conference to present them with a code of ethics for the profession: "The City Manager's Code of Ethics". Taking that first step to create a core set of principles so early in its infancy was fundamental to the success of the local government management profession. Today, those core values and principles are taught in MPA programs, reflected in local government management best practices, and enforced in a peer-review process governed by the ICMA Executive Board and adopted by the membership.


ICMA CODE OF ETHICS (View the Historical Interactive Timeline)

Message from the Ethics Director

Celebrating this milestone and reflections on the year ahead.


"The future of the profession and the Association looks bright. It looks bright because all of us are working together to strengthen each member and to continue to live up to our Code of Ethics, which requires all of us to be dedicated to concepts of effective and democratic local government. It is the element of professional integrity that more than any other factor has built a profession and an Association." - William E. Besuden, Assistant Director, ICMA, 1974

Honoring the Code's 100-Year History

Celebration of the centennial kicks off in January and will feature a celebration at ICMA's Annual Conference, September 21-25, 2024, in Pittsburgh/Alleghany County, Pennsylvania and continue through December 2024. The year-long celebration will include monthly features in PM Magazine, Leadership Matters, spotlights and stories from the membership, an interactive timeline highlighting the Code's history in words and pictures, and more! Stay tuned and contact us at with questions, thoughts or comments.

 Professional Ethics: Our Past, Present and Future

The principles outlined in the ICMA Code of Ethics and enforced by the Rules of Procedure for Enforcement govern the conduct of every member of ICMA.

  • Uphold the commitment to professional management, the value of public services, honesty and integrity, political neutrality, and seeking no personal gain as a result of the position held.

  • Demonstrate exemplary conduct in both personal and professional matters.

  • Respect the role and contributions of elected officials.

  • Serve the public equitably and governing body members equally. Keep the community informed about local government matters.

  • Support and lead employees.   

Explore common ethical issues by topic area and the Tenets and/or guidelines that address them.

Read more >>>

Ethical Leadership in Focus

Lead by being the role model for ethical conduct and remember you set the tone for your organization and community.

Renew Your Pledge to Honor the Code

All ICMA members agree to abide by the ICMA Code of Ethics and are subject to the the ICMA Rules of Procedure for Enforcement. Leadership in a management structure committed to equity, transparency, integrity, stewardship of public resources, political neutrality, and respect for the rights and responsibility of elected officials and residents strengthens democratic local governance. ICMA members pledge to uphold these principles in their conduct and decisions in order to merit the trust of the public, elected officials, and staff they serve. 

Renew Your Pledge >>> 

Share Your Story with ICMA

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the ICMA Code of Ethics (Code), ICMA invites members to reflect on how the Code has influenced you personally and professionally. Your association wants to hear from you!

Share Your Story >>>

What's on Your Wall?

Demonstrate your commitment to the highest ethical standards by hanging the ICMA Code of Ethics Frameable version on your wall. Take a picture of you with your Code and post it online using #WhatsOnYourWall and tagging @ICMA!

Download the Code (Suitable for Framing) >>>

The Year 1924: 100 Years Ago

The principles outlined in the Code 100 years ago remain timeless and continue to resonate with practitioners today. Here's a glimpse of what was happening in the world in 1924 when the first version of the ICMA Code of Ethics, consisting of 13 articles, was adopted:

  • Ellis Island closes as an immigration entry point to the US
  • Wrigley Building Finished
  • U.S. Army planes first round-the-world flight
  • The first Winter Olympics, held in Chamonix, France
  • The Indian Citizenship Act passed
  • Willem Einthoven wins the Nobel Prize for the electrocardiogram
  • New York City the first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
  • J. Edgar Hoover appointed as the head of the Bureau of Investigation Later called the FBI
  • Lt. Russell L. Maughan completes the first daylight hours transcontinental flight

View the Original Code (1924) >>>

Ethics Quiz

Test your knowledge of the Code!

Take the Quiz >>>

Ethics Matter! ™ Monthly Column in PM Magazine

Ethics Matter

Celebrating this milestone and reflections on the year ahead

image of person on a path

Helping us find the right path to follow in order to be true to our professional values

PM Article A Heritage for the Future - 1974

PM Article from Issue Dated October 1974

End Corruption in Local Government [PM Magazine, November 2019]

Illustration of woman holding up scales

Ways to strengthen your ethical core


ICMA promotes the highest standards of ethical conduct in the local government management profession by providing advice, education, and training to members. Take advantage of ICMA's offerings for staff at every level.
Ethics 101 Special Discount-Web Image

25% off thru Feb 29 | Use code RESOLVE24


An overview of ICMA’s training and technical assistance opportunities.


Answers to common ethics questions and how to seek advice on ethical issues

Explore the self-paced online training offered in ICMA's Learning Lab.
Establishing Ethical Values Course

Explores ethical decision-making in local government.

Ethics 101 Course

Strengthen your jurisdiction’s ethical culture.

Ethics in Local Government Course

Explores the fundamental concepts of ethics in local government.

Fundamentals of Local Government Course

Highlights the foundational principles of local government professionals.

Free Coaching Webinar from the ICMA Coaching Program.